Josh Miller is a BMW enthusiast wise beyond his years. Presently 23 years old and living in the Chicagoland area, Miller embodies “all things BMW all the time” and has followed his passion by immersing himself in the classic BMW community. Lucky for us, he shares that passion through his stand-out YouTube channel (@m3nameisjosh464) and Instagram account (@m3nameisjosh), so that we’re able to enjoy his shop-based, cross-country, and overseas BMW-centric adventures.
As you would expect from a true gearhead, Miller’s obsession with BMWs started before he could even drive. He recalls, “People ask if it was my Dad or someone in my family that got me into BMWs, but it was never that. My first love of BMW was because of the E46 M3 [featured in the video game] Need For Speed Most Wanted, and other video games of the era, like Forza Motorsport. I’m a lot younger than most people that deal in vintage BMWs, but the BMWs in those games—especially the older models—always grabbed my attention, and I just fell in love with how they looked.”
When he was old enough to drive, you’d better believe Miller’s first car was a BMW. In 2015, his father accompanied a friend to a local dealership that sold enthusiast-spec cars. While there, his father was sending photos of cars for sale, one of which happened to match a poster on Miller’s wall—an E46 M3. After some encouragement from his father, and buy-in from his mother, he had acquired his first BMW, a Silver Grey 2003 M3 (E46) that he still owns today.
He looks back and says, “At the time, those cars bottomed out in price—they were cheap and attainable cars. There was no plausible reason for me to own that car at that age. As much as I’m appreciative of that car coming into my life, I don’t think I would ever put a young person in an E46 M3—they can drain your wallet. The VANOS failed in the first year and I had to do a VANOS job, but otherwise it was good and reliable. I respected that car right off the bat, so that’s why it’s still sitting in the center of my shop. I don’t plan on ever getting rid of it.”
Since then, Miller has achieved what so many of us dream of—growing a business out of something that we love. He recalls how it all started, saying, “Throughout my late high school and college years (where he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering), I was working on these cars, buying them, and flipping them. My Calypso E34 525i was the second car in my collection. It was the car that introduced me to older BMWs.” It was a car he purchased as a daily driver, so his beloved E46 M3 could be kept in pristine condition.
Unfortunately, the E34 was totaled in 2019 when someone crashed into it. “I loved that car so much and I was distraught after the accident. People told me that I should fix it, so that’s what I did. That experience made me realize that if something like this happened again, I should have the parts to fix it,” Miller says.
This opened the door for searching for and buying cars found on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, with his first being an E34 that had no title and needed to be parted out. Miller says, “I would scour the marketplace for cheap BMWs and would go down one of two roads: either strip the car for parts because it was unsavable, or fix it up and flip it.
This has enabled Miller to search for cars that he’s always wanted to enjoy—cars that he’s passionate about. He explains his process, saying, “For the past six years, I’ve been selling parts, I’ve been selling cars, and I’ve been doing social media at the same time. The cars fund themselves because I’m buying them and selling them for a profit. And then I make money on the content I produce, so it’s this nice revolving door of buying cars, fixing them up, and making content. I started out with $500 cars and now I’m working my way up to some of the higher-ticket stuff.” Miller credits friends, his father, and YouTube for learning how to wrench on cars. He says, “I learned by doing. You’ll make stupid mistakes, but every mistake you make puts you in the right direction.”
With twelve cars currently in Miller’s stable, some are permanent fixtures while others are in the process of being repaired and finding new homes. How many BMWs has Miller owned exactly? He laughs, “I used to keep a list tracking that, but it’s fallen off the past couple of years because it’s been so excessive.” He’s closing in on 80 BMWs that have come through his shop in the past six years.
Does he have a favorite? Miller says, “It’s like when you ask someone to pick their favorite kid—it’s impossible. But deep down in my heart I know that my favorites are my E46 M3, my Calypso E34, and my Dakar E36 M3.”
The Dakar 1999 M3 is certainly on the wild side of the modification spectrum. Miller describes the E36, saying, “It’s wide-bodied with a Felony Form over-fender kit. It’s not a factory Dakar E36—I don’t know who in their right mind would want to cut up a factory Dakar E36. It’s on Broadway static suspension, with BBS five-spoke Kerscher wheels, and a Magma interior, which is one of my favorite things about the car.” He jokes, “It’s my most useless show car because the way it’s setup is not for ‘M3’ driving. It’s for my own pure enjoyment—I enjoy looking at it as much as I like driving it.”
In addition to the enjoyment Miller gets from the cars, he says he’s been fortunate to meet so many great people and make lasting friendships in the BMW community. He reflects about one friend in particular, saying, “My good friend Adam Bensaid is a special person in my BMW world. He lived up in Wisconsin, and we met through buying and exchanging parts. We just hit it off. We would have really good conversations. He loved these cars more than anyone I know. And he loved hopping into his E30 and driving it across the country just for fun. He lived a very fun, cool, care-free lifestyle.”
In a tragic turn of events almost two years ago, Bensaid passed away after being hit by a drunk driver. Miller says, “I learned a lot from him—the way he went about living and enjoying these cars. For that reason, I’ve done two cross-country trips in an old BMW just because I knew that’s what he liked to do. Because of him, I will forever find excuses to buy cars in California and drive them home or take my own projects across the country. I think that’s something everyone should experience because it’s very special.”
In what Miller calls the “next step of his business plan,” he recently went to Germany to meet with someone who he’s been working with to find and acquire special classic BMWs overseas. How special? I’d say an E30-chassis Alpina B3 fits that description nicely. Miller says he wants to introduce his YouTube views and Instagram followers to rare European BMWs that we didn’t get in the US, in addition to having higher end BMWs move through his shop.
Miller’s work and BMW lifestyle were enough for BMW to take notice as they featured him on Instagram just this past Wednesday, July 5th. While their social media feeds mainly comprise the brand’s latest models, many followers agreed it was nice to see them spotlight classics and spotlight someone so passionate about the brand.
After seeing Miller’s videos and BMW-related adventures, BMW reached out and asked to share his story. He recalls his surprise, saying, “I thought it was a dream. I just woke up and saw BMW had sent a message and thought, ‘Oh, that’s weird, someone on Instagram has the name BMW.’ Then I saw the check mark and thought ‘No way!’” It was well-deserved recognition for someone who eats, sleeps, and breathes BMW.
Along with incoming classics from Europe, Miller has a few BMW chassis that he still wants to own. He says, “I’m still itching to get my hands on an E31 8 Series and an E92 M3, which strays from my norm as I usually won’t touch a car newer than an E46.” Whatever Miller’s next adventure happens to be, one thing’s for sure: I’ll be tuning in to find out. Keep up the great work, Josh!—Mike Bevels
[Photos courtesy of Josh Miller.]